Leprous are back with their sixth album, “Pitfalls.” The title is quite appropriate too. The band is not afraid to take some risks and push their sound forward, you know…progress. “Coal” was the last time the band really make a large step. At the time, I thought that “Coal” was a misstep. It took me until earlier this year before I realized that I really like “Coal” a lot. “Pitfalls” is probably going to be similar.
The difference with “Pitfalls” isn’t the songs themselves but rather the arrangement of the songs. Songs like “I Lose Hope” or “Observe the Train” are well written songs. However, the arrangement on them has a bit of an electronic/dance vibe. Much of this is because drummer Baard Kolstad is either playing less like a “typical” metal drummer (like he is drumming for Seal) or the percussion sounds (ack!) programmed. It’s an interesting situation because I do like the songs. I guess it’s similar to how Muse or Seal approaches some of their music. I love them both so I guess I love this too?
Vocalist Einar Solberg is incredible on all of “Pitfalls” and it’s his vocal performance on tracks like “Alleviate” that blows my mind. There’s that one note during the chorus of the song that gives me chills. On “Coal” he was a bit reserved so that’s one big difference in comparing these two albums (since that seems to be what I am doing). He knows how to deliver a catchy chorus as well, as is the case with “At the Bottom.” The guy is incredible.
The song that is worth buying “Pitfalls” alone for is the epic closer “The Sky is Red.” This is as close to a definitive Leprous song as there is. It takes the approach that they have on this album and mixes it with the slow burn of “Coal” (get it?) and the power of “The Congregation.” The song not only sums up the band but sums up their career to this point.
I will say that I like “Pitfalls” better right now than when I first heard “Coal.” I also think that the songs are as good a set as the band have written. So yes, “Pitfalls” is a challenging step forward for one of prog metal’s best bands. The album could piss off a few people but all great music should force a reaction if it is indeed great music.
UPDATE: After repeated listenings, the arrangements make perfect sense now. In fact, I don’t know how else Leprous should have approached this album. Songs like “I Lose Hope” are catchy and damn funky. I find myself singing along and grooving to these songs like I haven’t done before. “By My Throne” is another grower. Well the whole thing is a grower. It is one of 2019’s best albums.
Original Rating: 8.5/10
Updated Rating: 10/10
2. I Lose Hope
3. Observe The Train
4. By My Throne
6. At The Bottom
7. Distant Bells
9. The Sky Is Red
Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 25 October 2019